LIFEBOAT

[This case study is the first part of the Lifeboat ‘SERIES OF CASE STUDIES’.]

[For the purpose of this case, suppose you are the captain of an Indian Naval Ship.]

You are considering yourself very fortunate to have been selected to lead an expedition to Dakshin Gangotri base station in Antarctica (the first Indian base station established in Antarctica at about a distance of 2500 km from the South Pole in the year 1983-84). The expedition is going to upgrade the wireless communications system there which would take about one and a half month excluding journey time. But what is most exhilarating for you is the fact that the second-in-command, Captain Munish Batra, is one of your best friends since induction days.

Your family is also happy for you because of two reasons. First, is obviously, your leading the expedition and second, is that India is at a tussle for quite some time with one of the neighbouring countries over supremacy in the Indian Ocean region and recently there has been a heavy exchange of fire, and your family is considering your posting a particularly safer one.

Your family, along with Munish’s, comes to see off you guys at Visakhapatnam Naval Base and Munish’s daughter asks you to bring a penguin for her. On-board you have a total of 50 people comprising of Naval Officers, technicians, deck crew, and a few labourers.

You set off for your expedition on a fine Monday morning in early December. As Antarctica is located in Southern Hemisphere, it is warmer during winter months in India with January being the hottest.

After more than 3 weeks into the journey, at the wee hours of a Wednesday when your ship is about 50 nautical miles away from Dakshin Gangotri base station, your ship is hit by a torpedo. The ship is sinking fast. You quickly report the matter to Vishakhapatnam Naval Base and inspect all the available lifeboats. You find that all the lifeboats except one are heavily damaged. The maximum capacity of this lifeboat is 40 people. You take charge of that lifeboat.

In the next few minutes, you take on-board the 39 other people who you find first and the remaining 10 are still stranded in ice-cold water. Munish is with you on the ship.

You are aware that if you take another person on-board, the lifeboat would topple risking the lives of 40 people who are already on the lifeboat. You also know that the people who are stranded in water will soon die of hypothermia (a condition when body loses heat faster than it produces heat).

You begin to steer away the lifeboat towards the base station. At this point, the remaining 10 people plead you for help.

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